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Digest by: Fredrick Rodel V.


Alonzo vs. IAC

GR Number + Date: G.R. No. 72873 May 28, 1987 Petition: Petition for review by way of certiorari: Appeal from a decision of the Intermediate Appellate Court Petitioner: CARLOS ALONZO and CASIMIRA ALONZO Respondent: INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT and TECLA PADUA Ponencia: Cruz, J. DOCTRINE: Statutory Construction: Legislative Intent: The spirit, rather than the letter of a statute determines its construction, hence, a statute must be read according to its spirit or intent. For what is within the spirit is within the letter but although it is not within the letter thereof, and that which is within the letter but not within the spirit is not within the statute. Stated differently, a thing which is within the intent of the lawmaker is as much within the statute as if within the letter; and a thing which is within the letter of the statute is not within the statute unless within the intent of the lawmakers. FACTS: 5 Brothers and Sisters inherited qual pro indiviso shares a parcel of land registered in 'the name of their deceased parents. 2. One of them, through an absolute deed of sale, transferred to petitioners, his undivided share of the land. A year later, his sister sold her share in a Con Pacto de Retro Sale. 3. Petitioners occupied the two fifths of the land representing the portions sold to them and thereafter enclosed it with a fence. 4. The son of the petitioners, Eduaro Alonzo and his wife, then built a semi-concrete house with the consent of the petitioners. 5. One of the heirs to the land sought to redeem the portions that were sold but was subsequently denied due to him being an American citizen. 6. Another co-heir, filed her own complaint invoking the same right of redemption claimed by her brother. 7. The trial court also dismiss this complaint, now on the ground that the right had lapsed, not having been exercised within thirty days from notice of the sales. Although there was no written notice, it was held that actual knowledge of the sales by the co-heirs satisfied the requirement of the law. 8. IAC, in reversing the trial court, the respondent court declared that the notice required by the said article was written notice and that actual notice would not suffice as a substitute. ISSUES: 1. WoN actual knowledge satisfied the requirement of Article 1088 of the Civil Code. PROVISIONS: Art. 1088. Should any of the heirs sell his hereditary rights to a stranger before the partition, any or all of the co-heirs may be subrogated to the rights of the purchaser by reimbursing him for the price of the sale, provided they do so within the period of one month from the time they were notified in writing of the sale by the vendor. RULING + RATIO: 1. Yes. a. While we admittedly may not legislate, we nevertheless have the power to interpret the law in such a way as to reflect the will of the legislature. While we may not read into the law a purpose that is not there, we nevertheless have the right to read out of it 1. the reason for its enactment. In doing so, we defer not to "the letter that killeth" but to "the spirit that vivifieth," to give effect to the law maker's will. b. Was there a valid notice? Granting that the law requires the notice to be written, would such notice be necessary in this case? Assuming there was a valid notice although it was not in writing. would there be any question that the 30-day period for redemption had expired long before the complaint was filed in 1977? In the face of the established facts, we cannot accept the private respondents' pretense that they were unaware of the sales made by their brother and sister in 1963 and 1964. By requiring written proof of such notice, we would be closing our eyes to the obvious truth in favor of their palpably false claim of ignorance, thus exalting the letter of the law over its purpose. The purpose is clear enough: to make sure that the redemptioners are duly notified. We are satisfied that in this case the other brothers and sisters were actually informed, although not in writing, of the sales made in 1963 and 1964, and that such notice was sufficient. c. The co-heirs in this case were undeniably informed of the sales although no notice in writing was given them. And there is no doubt either that the 30-day period began and ended during the 14 years between the sales in question and the filing of the complaint for redemption in 1977, without the co-heirs exercising their right of redemption. These are the justifications for this exception. DISPOSITION 1. WHEREFORE, the petition is granted. The decision of the respondent court is REVERSED and that of the trial court is reinstated, without any pronouncement as to costs. It is so ordered.